1. Health & Lifestyle

Flying Greenhouses in the Space

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

With the evolution of the earth and the theory of Adam and Eve, the Apple was the first fruit taken by the human being. Apple was considered as the fruit of the understanding. Apart from quenching the hunger, the first human beings were to take the food from the nature, forest fruits etc. With the change of time and as per the needs, the basic needs were food, clothing and shelter.

The food was important. At present there are many alternatives of the food available to the mankind. In view of the 2030, 2050 population worldwide, the importance of the food security automatically emerged as the prime factor.

The agriculture scientists are already working on this aspect. The development of the new varieties as per the need. Where less water is required. Greenhouses for the growth of the vegetables without the season.

Similarly, when mankind is approaching and finding the life on the other planets, the requirement of the food which can be vegetables and fruits are to be taken along with as packed items in the spacecrafts. New idea is to grow the required vegetation in the space itself and on the planet where the mankind is thinking to be settled down.

Many satellites as laboratories are helping the space crew for the corrections of any faults in between the space flight. Accordingly the idea of having their own vegetations in the greenhouse flying in the space to provide the food. It is food for thought also.

Soon, a flying greenhouse could revolve around the Earth. This summer, a research satellite from Bremen should be launched into space with tomato seeds on board. In it, the plants should grow under different gravitational conditions; for half a year gravity like on the moon, then for half a year with the gravity of Mars.

"We will ultimately simulate and test greenhouses that could be put on the Moon or Mars (inside a habitat) providing fresh food for a crew by using a closed system to convert waste into manure in a controlled manner," says DLR biologist Dr. Jens Hauslage, who leads the science mission.

For example, in a lunar habitat, the greenhouse would be inside - where even the astronauts are in an Earth-like atmosphere. One of the waste products that would be produced with great regularity would be the urine of the astronauts. The plants would have to adapt to the reduced gravity: the moon only has about a sixth of Earth’s gravity, Mars about one third.

Researchers from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Bremen and Cologne will be watching what goes on in the small ecosystem inside the satellite. The findings are important for future space missions to the moon and Mars, said project manager Hartmut Müller.

The tests with the tomato plants in space would take one and a half years in all. 

The implementation of a space mission is like a race in stages - only when the first models of a satellite have been successfully tested, is the starting signal for the construction of the actual flight model. For the satellite Eu: CROPIS of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which will operate two greenhouses in space under moon and Mars conditions, this next milestone has now been reached: The construction of the aircraft model can begin. The finish line is already set - in the second half of 2017, the satellite and its scientific payload with the Falcon 9 of Space-X in the direction of all start.

Microorganisms and Eye Animals as Helper -  The satellite Eu: CROPIS is said to rotate at a speed of 600 kilometers during its mission, producing gravity for six months, then for six months, and then for six months, Mars gravity. It should sprout tomato seeds under the surveillance eyes of 16 cameras and develop small space tomatoes. The key helpers that make this possible fly into space: Firstly, a whole consortium of microorganisms in a trickle filter will ensure that from artificial urine a wholesome fertilizer for the tomatoes is produced, on the other hand are eye animals - the single-celled Euglena - with Board to additionally protect the closed system from excess ammonia and also to supply oxygen. LED light will provide a day and night rhythm for eye and tomato seeds.

Tomatoes for the Astronaut Crew - "We ultimately simulate and test greenhouses that could stand on the Moon or Mars inside a habitat and deliver fresh food to a crew on the ground by using a closed system to convert waste into manure in a controlled manner," says DLR biologist Dr. med. Jens Hauslage, who leads the mission scientifically. For example, in a lunar habitat, the greenhouse would be inside - where even the astronauts are in an Earth-like atmosphere. One of the wastes that would arise with great regularity: the urine of the astronauts. The plants would have to adapt to the reduced gravity - on the moon is about a sixth of gravity, on Mars a little third

Waste to Fertilizer - under Controlled Conditions -  "A compost heap for recycling would not be controllable for a space station or a habitat, so we use our trickle filter CROP, which works like normal ground, but under controlled conditions." Before Eu: Cropis is sent on the journey, the lava stones of the trickle filter are therefore first "infected" with dried soil. Through this vaccination, various organisms in the holey, large surface of the lava rocks and use this as a habitat. In space, then every two or three days artificial urine is trickled with water over this habitat, in which a true competition of the microorganisms for this food arises. The harmful ammonia is degraded by nitrite to nitrate and passed as fertilizer to the tomato seeds.

Heavenly and Earthly Applications-  If Eu: Cropis with its scientific payload in space, first the greenhouse is activated, which is exposed to the moon conditions. The satellite is controlled by the DLR control center in Oberpfaffenhofen (GSOC), the greenhouse receives its commands from the DLR control center in Cologne (MUSC). 

The trickle filter with its hungry inmates is operated by the DLR Institute for Aerospace Medicine, the eyedore contributes to the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. After six months, the second greenhouse will be activated under Mars gravity: microorganisms, tomato seeds and Euglena were then exposed to space radiation for half a year - comparable to a flight to Mars.

Flying Greenhouses in the Space Flying Greenhouses in the Space 

"The technology that we test with Eu: CROPIS in space for habitats on other celestial bodies, but is also suitable for terrestrial application," says DLR scientist. Jens house situation. So you can convert slurry with Rieselfiltern and use them more effective and less odor. Also, the recycling of urine in urban areas, for example, for greenhouses in high-rise buildings ("Vertical Farm"), would be a possible application.

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